Organisers and supporting agencies in this year’s Foreday Morning Jam are reporting absolutely no safety issues ahead of the eagerly-anticipated Crop Over jump-up in the wee hours of Saturday morning.
The producer of this year’s jam, Wayne Webster, told reporters that the organisers, with backup from the Royal Barbados Police Force, the Barbados Defence Force and private security firms, have taken all reasonable steps to secure revellers.
The officials held a news conference along the Mighty Grynner Highway, to outline plans for this year’s event, which is expected to attract as many as 15,000 revellers in 30 bands.
“There are always safety concerns and it is for that reason we engaged the services of the security experts in Barbados to help us ensure the safety of those 30,000 persons, revellers or spectators on that day and yes, we have reviewed, examined and looked at all the risk factors involved and provided the security that we think would answer to those issues,” Webster said.
The assurance comes in the midst of an unprecedented year of murders nationwide. Just two years ago, the Crop Over marquee event was marred by a mass shooting which claimed a young person’s life.
But last year’s episode proceeded without major incident and officials said all reasonable steps have been taken to maintain the positive results.
“The police again will be enlisting the support of the Barbados Defence Force, to help them to enhance the number of men deployed on that night so we are not concerned from the standpoint that there are likely to be security challenges that we can’t manage,” Webster told reporters.
Spokesman for the event’s sponsor, Barbados Light and Power Company, Jennifer Blackman, indicated the electric utility has increased its lighting along the route and will be replacing the current sodium lights with brighter LED lights.
She encouraged revellers to make safety their businesses as well, by familiarising themselves with the route and drinking responsibly.
Blackman said: “Safety continues to be a top priority for us at the Light and Power and we believe it should be of primary importance for all Barbadians and so we would like the entire Crop Over festival to be incident-free.”
Amid growing competition from alternative foreday morning events, Webster said the NCF has welcomed five new bands to the event. And despite a falloff in the total number of bands from 42 last year to 30 this year, there has been no decline in the number of registered revellers, he added.
He explained: “Smaller bands were merging together from last year so rather than individuals trying to bring their own bands, they have come together and brought larger bands actually.
“So if there were two bands of 150 last year, it would now be one band of 300. The issue of the amalgamation is really just one of economics.
“It is more viable to put a band of 300 people on the road than to struggle to put 150 on the road.
“The more numbers in the band, the cheaper it is for the band to actually go on the road, rather than carry the high cost of a smaller number of participants,” he explained.
Of the alternative jumps, he said: “The concern we have with outside events is the value that they add. We have no negative concerns in relation to outside events because one organisation cannot make a festival.”
In an effort to attract more bands, the NCF has waived the registration fee.
Revellers are expected to depart three locations – Queen’s Park, the Helipad Car Park off Hincks Street and the Princess Alice Highway near the BIDC headquarters.
The event starts at 1 a.m. on Saturday morning and ends at 8 a.m. on the Mighty Grynner Highway. For the first time, revellers get an extra two hours of party time.